Designer Q&A : WHITE/SPACE

White/Space is a collection to be worn and loved! Created by Khadijah Fulton, a Los Angeles based designer and graduate of Parsons, who spent a decade as a fashion designer, before becoming a mother and moving into jewelry. White/Space pursues sophistication in the unexpected, with aesthetic influences hailing from mid-century architecture and ancient goldsmithing to minimalist art and sculpture. Khadijah sat down with us to tell us a bit about everything - from her design background to her grandmother's jewelry!

Your education and early career is rooted in fashion design. Tell us about your transition to jewelry!

When I was working in fashion, jewelry was always a personal passion of mine, whether I was shopping for vintage pieces on the weekends (or on inspiration trips for work) or actually creating jewelry with beads and findings in my spare time, which I started to do later on in my fashion career.  I really started learning bench techniques, goldsmithing and stone setting when I was about 1 year into stay-at-home motherhood.  It was the first time in my life that I wasn't devoting most of my time to a creative calling, and I began taking night classes and weekend workshops in jewelry fabrication to get back to that part of myself.

 

Is your approach to fashion design reflected in your approach to jewelry design?

Yes and no. When I was working in fashion I always designed for large companies, so there was a clear brand vision, aesthetic and pricepoint that I was designing for.  Having my own brand, I have had to define that myself over time, and functioning as a small brand doesn't work the same way as working as part of a corporate enterprise with in-built teams in place!

But what has always been a constant is my desire to design pieces that are not only beautiful, but also very realistic for incorporating into every day looks. I love giving women the opportunity to feel special all the time, not just for "special" occasions, and in my fashion career I worked for brands that create real clothes for real life (and real bodies!) as well.

Where do you look for inspiration when designing?

So many places! I always love the philosphies and aesthetics in mid-century modernist architecture and design. I also am very drawn to the simplicity and directness of the shapes found in African sculpture and goldsmithing. But when I'm actually working in my sketchbook or at the bench (sometimes I just love how materials come together, and that can spark an idea) I'm also always thinking about how to bring joy and delight to a woman when she catches herself in a mirror, or happens to look at her hand during the day.  I go for the things that bring delight to me, and hope that will also happen for other women who wear my jewelry.

What is your favorite piece to make?

Oh gosh! Don't make me choose a favorite baby, haha! There are different aspects I love about making all of them, but the most fun thing is the end, when it all comes together.  Whether it's a simple stud earring or a more complex style, seeing my initial vision come to life is incredibly gratifying.

The Double Baroque Pearl Necklace is such a special piece. Could you tell us a bit about the inspiration and process behind this design?

This is one of those pieces that is really inspired by the materials. I love baroque pearls in general because they remind me of the beauty of imperfection.  The wabi-sabi way of looking at things is something that really resonates with me, in its embrace of natural imperfection and constant change, but personally I've always struggled with perfectionism.

The Double Baroque Necklace is like a 'double down' on the beauty of imperfection! Each pearl is one of a kind, has taken its own path to forming, has grown into its own individual shape, and each one is beautiful and imperfect in its own right.  When you wear it, it has a wonderful weight and presence, it feels good in your hand and is a great converstion piece, on its own or layered.

I read that your love for jewelry was partly inspired by your grandmother! Could you tell us about some of the pieces you remember her wearing?

My grandmother was very charming, engaging and elegant, and she loved collecting eye-catching necklaces with large beads, fun chunky bangles and cocktail rings with juicy gemstones.  She had a few precious pieces, but most of it was really great constume jewelry.  The thing I remember most is her style, and how important it was for her to finish off her look with a beautiful piece of jewelry. 

She had a jewelry armoire that was as tall as I was as a young girl, and each drawer held different treasures.  I remember her getting ready for work, church, or for a friend coming over to visit, and sometimes she would let me go into that jewelry box and pull out which pieces she wanted to wear that day. She never wore a lot of makeup, just red lipstick, a touch of rouge, and a spritz of her favorite fragrance (the legendary Samsara by Guerlain) but she always chose her jewelry with love and joy, and her polished style left an impression on everyone she met.

What advice do you have for aspiring jewelers?

Learn as much as you can about the fabrication and fundamentals of jewelry construction.  Whether you want to focus on design, or actually be at the bench constructing jewelry, the more you know firsthand about how to execute your ideas, the better - and that includes education in CAD rendering as well as IRL bench contruction because the two go hand in hand. 

On the production side, the industry can be very opaque, and there is so much that goes into making a piece of jewelry, that the more you actually know about the work that's involved, the better you'll be able to protect yourself from vendors trying to give you the runaround or take advantage.  Be patient. Making and designing jewelry requires skills that are honed over time, whether you're doing it yourself or someone is doing it for you - it takes time to learn, grow in skill level and find partners you can trust.  And lastly, watch your money.  Whether it's a hobby or career aspiration, jewelry is one of those passions that can be expensive! 

What do you hope customers feel when they look at and wear your pieces?

When they look at them, I hope they feel a sense of serenity and optimism, inspired by the beauty of simplicity.  When they wear White/Space I hope they feel like their inner Elegant Badass is shining through, even if it's in a subtle way.